Behchokǫ̀ man who pleaded guilty to killing his brother is to be sent for psychiatric assessment

·3 min read
The Yellowknife courthouse. Colton Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, says his client doesn't want a psychiatric assessment and will refuse to participate. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife courthouse. Colton Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, says his client doesn't want a psychiatric assessment and will refuse to participate. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

A Behchokǫ, N.W.T., man who pleaded guilty to the 2020 killing of his brother will be sent for a psychiatric assessment against his will, a judge ordered Wednesday.

Colton Migwi was initially charged with murder in relation to his brother Andrew's death, but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea agreement.

On Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Duane Praught asked for an order forcing Migwi to undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine if he can be found not criminally responsible for his brother's death.

Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, said his client doesn't want an assessment and will refuse to participate.

Migwi does not have a criminal record.

No memory of attack 

Migwi's brother, Andrew, was found dead in a home in Behchokǫ̀ on March 7, 2020. According to an agreed statement of facts, Migwi stabbed him with a hunting knife several times while they were alone in the home they shared with their mother and siblings. The pair had been drinking.

Court documents show that after the attack, Migwi went and stayed at another residence.

The next morning, Migwi returned to his home and was seen by neighbours on the steps of his house wearing blood-soaked clothes. He began yelling for someone to call an ambulance.

Migwi said he had no memory of the night, including the attack.

When speaking to police later that day, Migwi told officers "I kind of think I did it."

Auditory hallucinations

Migwi was scheduled to be sentenced in June, but that was postponed at the request of Crown prosecutor Duane Praught. He told the court he needed more time to fully review a report written by Dr. Anne Pleydon, a clinical psychologist who counselled Migwi at the North Slave Correctional Complex.

Praught told the court it had become apparent — after reviewing health records and the recent report — that Migwi has mental health issues and may not be criminally responsible for his brother's death.

Court documents show Migwi suffers from auditory hallucinations — voices that sometimes tell him to "kill." At the time of his brother's death, Migwi had been prescribed several anti-psychotic medications but hadn't been taking them because he had run out.

Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, said his client doesn't want to participate in a psychiatric assessment because he doesn't want to end up in a psychiatric facility outside the territory. Harte said his client will refuse to answer questions from a psychiatrist if an assessment is ordered.

On Wednesday, Northwest Territories Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mahar ruled Migwi will be sent for a psychiatric assessment.

"I can't force you to co-operate," Mahar said. "You are taking on a responsibility that may not be yours to take on."

He said Migwi's conviction would go beyond the time he would spend behind bars.

"If this awful thing was the result of a psychotic break, then we should know that," Mahar said.

Migwi's psychiatric assessment is scheduled to be completed in the next 30 days.